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Schools wont be rezoned
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Parents won’t have to wonder about what school their children will attend next school year as schools will not be rezoned for the 2013-2014 academic year.

Newton County School System Superintendent Gary Mathews made the announcement on Wednesday in his end of the month notes. Mathews said he confirmed with Board of Education Chair Abigail Coggin prior to Tuesday’s board meeting that there was no such intention by the board.

“I am aware that there has been some speculation in the community about rezoning or “redistricting” our schools for the upcoming 2013-14 school year,” Mathews said.

“When enrollment warrants and new schools are built, or old facilities are replaced in keeping with state guidelines and funding, then the board will look at any needed rezoning. That is not the case for next school year and it may not be the case for some several years.”

Mathews also stressed the importance of the upcoming Tuesday, March 19 education SPLOST vote in his notes. He said a continuation of a current penny sales tax is important in supporting local schools and the school system.

“These dollars can be legally used for such purposes as bus replacement, technology replacement and upgrades, school security, maintenance, seed dollars for new construction, etc. Additionally, there is approximately $30 million in ‘taxpayer relief’ for homeowners, i.e., the current 1.9 mills for debt service will revert to zero for the five years of this SPLOST IV or “E-SPLOST,” Mathews said.

“The general fund for NCSS, which provides for salaries, supplies, and the like, will continue to be under duress in the current economy. It can take no further erosion due to the kind of capital expenses that SPLOST is meant to fund,” he said.

Also in his notes, Mathews said various system committees are preparing for the upcoming AdvancED SACS/CASI system accreditation visit scheduled for March 23-26, 2014.

“Not unlike the upcoming SPLOST election, this is a very critical endeavor for our school system and each individual school,” Mathews said. “Accreditation is key to system and school reputation, the recruitment and retention of staff, college admissions, and many other critical matters.”

According to information from a presentation given by Samantha Fuhrey, NCSS Deputy Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, the process has changed since the last SACS/CASI visit as schools will be much more involved in the upcoming visit.

In addition to parallel internal reviews being conducted, schools will also participate in the district’s external review, where the SACS committee will evaluate the district on standards by reviewing the self-assessment information and indicators. The committee will also evaluate evidence gleaned from interviews, observations, and artifacts.

The committee will visit numerous schools observing teachers in the classroom and evaluating them using the Effective Learning Environment Observation Tool. The committee is looking to see that the focus in the classroom is on the learner and the learning environment.

The external review will conclude with communication from the SACS Review Committee in the form of an exit report; a written report on our standards, learning environment, stakeholder feedback, and student performance; and a summary of findings and listing of required actions on the part of the district.